Alyn Edwards has been obsessed with cars as long as he can remember. He owns a collection of over 35 classic cars, consisting of mostly convertibles, but he has owned hundreds of cars over the past 50 years. As a journalist and TV reporter, he been able to meld his lifelong passion for cars with his writing and storytelling expertise to tell stories about cars and their owners in a bi-weekly automotive column. His column is featured in the Vancouver Sun and several other Canadian Newspapers as well as the popular Driving.ca website. Alyn not only collects cars but plays an active role in restoring and maintaining his beautiful collection.
I've loved cars since I was two feet tall.
I don't know when I didn't love cars. It was really the art of cars that I loved.
I wanted to be a car designer the problem I have is I can't draw. I have no skills that way so, but embedded in my psyche is the cars I saw when I was young and the cars that I thought were so beautiful.
Well I grew up in Ontario and the summers were hot and the best time for a convertible was at night. It was 85 degrees typically in the Summertime in Toronto. And we had a summer cottage three hours north of Toronto and I'd drive to the cottage at night with my convertible top down and it was just beautiful. All the sounds and smells of the summer in Ontario. And I just got to love convertibles, plus I've always liked the style of convertibles. Even when the top is up, I think that they just look beautiful. They speak to me of summer days. When I became of age, I bought a '56 Plymouth convertible and then a '60 Buick convertible, and then I bought a new '67 Chrysler 300 convertible, and then the '68 Corvettes came out. I absolutely had to have one of those so I got a red '68 Corvette convertible and that's what I drove to Vancouver. My father ran Canada's news service for radio and television called Broadcast News and he was one of the top journalists in the country. And and I guess it's in the blood and I went into newspaper reporting. I was a young newspaper beat reporter for the Toronto Telegram newspaper and at the age of 25 they made me a feature writer which was such an honour because all the feature writers that were in the newspaper that I knew were older people, grey hair. And here I am, 25 years old as a feature writer, which was a total honour. At 27, I found myself being recruited by television stations, I'm not sure why. But the best offer was here in Vancouver with BCTV and I drove my red '68 Corvette convertible to Vancouver and became a TV news reporter.
Now this is the way to cruise through Toy-land, especially when you're in a hurry. I am with just a couple of days to go and there's a lot of new innovative toys to see this year. I found that the PNE Motorama shows were fascinating to me. So I always did stories on the Motorama show and people seemed to like those stories. And any time I could do an automotive story that was a legitimate story, I would do it for television.
When I got out of television news and went into the public relations business, the Vancouver Sun had a section where you could write your own 'auto'-biography and so I heard about that and I wrote a story on my maroon '53 Monarch convertible. People say it's my most beautiful car. So I wrote that story for the Vancouver Sun and then I'd hear stories, other stories, and as a journalist I'd go, that's just a great story, but I had no venue to tell it. So I'd go to people and say, why don't you write your story, send in some pictures they'll put it on the cover of the newspaper. Driving Section...don't know how to do that. So I said, well I'll do it and you just send in what I write. So I started doing that and Linda Bates was the editor of the driving section, she found out about that and said, contacted me, and said, I'll take any story you write. So that was over 10 years ago and here I am.
I really love cars and my wife bought a 1960 Corvette in 1973. I had a new '72 Corvette and in 1973, the year we got married, she announced to me that she wanted her own Corvette but she wanted a little Corvette. And I said, well what's that? And she showed me a picture of a Route 66 style Corvette. And my wife, if she wants something, she's going to get it. And we were members of the BC Corvette Club at that time, and so was Jerry Olson. And Jerry Olson had J&M Fiberglass Enterprises on Seymour street, downtown Vancouver, a Corvette body shop. And Jerry had connections, so one day he phoned me and said your wife's Corvette is at the border. Go down and get it. I said, what do you mean? He said, well, there's a guy at the border, he's got three Corvettes on a trailer from California. Go get one. So I grabbed, scratched up all the money. It was $1,400 bucks. Chose the one that I thought was the best, which happens to be this car that's beside me and bought it. And then took it to Jerry and Jerry said, come in on the weekends, it needed a paint job, so we sanded it to bare fiberglass. But took it to Jerry and he said, come on on the weekends and help me with it. We'll do more on the car for the same money. Well, the next thing you know, the body's coming off the frame and every nut and bolt out of it and I panicked. I went, how are you ever going to get it back together again? How are you going to get the glass in, the in the windshield, how are you going to get the wiring in it? I had no idea, I'm not naturally mechanical. But pretty soon, I had my own key, and my own coveralls and I was going in every night, when I was in town, and working on the car. He'd tell me things to do, he'd leave me a list and I'd work for four or five hours a night. And in the end the car was completely body off the frame restored. And then somebody said, put it in the PNE Motorama, it's coming up in two weeks. So we did, and it was my wife's car, and she won a bunch of trophies with the car. And I just got the bug. I thought, this is what I want to do.
My wife Ann does support this hobby and she can imagine what kind of trouble I'd get into if I didn't pursue cars because I have a lot of energy. But I kind of have her over the barrel because she bought the first collector car and so all this is her fault. It's not my fault. It began with her and when she bought the '60 Corvette and she wanted to have it really nice and I had it restored, and participated in that, and then I got the bug for restoring cars. It's really enriched my life fully and my wife does support everything I do and I don't know if she thinks that 35 cars is a good idea. I think she probably stopped thinking it was a good idea about 20, but on the other hand, she knows how much I love cars and she still has her Corvette after 48 years. I bought a '56 Thunderbird, which proved to be a disaster, the first one I bought had no floor in it. But I learned about rust that way, making mistakes. And then I bought a second Thunderbird, which happened to have no rust in it. And that's the one that's down here. I've had it 45 years and my idea was that I'd have a two-car garage with a Corvette, an old Corvette, my wife's Corvette and a Thunderbird and that'll be satisfying, that will do it. No! That didn't do it. And because I traveled all the time, I was looking for cars instinctively and when I found cars, I started to buy them. And I bought hundreds of them.
But I just thought, someday convertibles aren't going to be available and I'm not going to be able to find these cars so I'm going to buy them, whether it's a good idea or not and I did
So that's how the collection grew and this is what happens when your hobby gets out of control.
This is the parts department and these parts are left over from restorations over the last four decades or so. And it pays dividends, you know I'm in my parts department all the time. It seems I need this and I need that and since there aren't swap meets anymore it's really good to be able to have your own inventory.
People would think this is junk but to me it's jewelry and it really is good to keep things. And and then when people call me, if I got this or if I got that, chances are I might be able to help them.
I'm a storyteller and you take a look at my career as a young newspaper reporter, feature writer, and television news reporter, and now in the public relations business helping others tell their stories. So cars really are of great interest to me, obviously, but equally of interest is how people engage with the cars that are important to them. And that's the stories that I write. And when people, even people who aren't interested in collector cars tell me, they read my stories because they really like the whole concept of the lifestyle and how how people's backgrounds merge with the cars that they keep and love. It's how people engage with the cars that they love. That's the stories I like to do. And I never get tired of it, and it puts me into garages and scrapbooks and people's lives. I've been so privileged to meet people on that level. I'm just truly interested in that journey.
Well, the '53 Monarch convertible, I bought that, literally bought that car in a bar. The car wasn't in the bar but I was, in Williams Lake. And I was a TV news reporter at the time and walked into the bar with a cameraman in Williams Lake. Three guys sitting at a table... oh Alan Edwards, come and sit with us. Got talking to the guy beside me, he said well I got an old car too. What's that? '53 Monarch convertible. So that's the car and it was basically a field car and it took 14 years and six parts cars to restore so that's one. I love retractables. I love the Ford Skyliner retractable. It's genius how that top works, metal top going into the trunk. I've had 40 of these cars, I have two right now. The '56 ford Thunderbird I bought that car 45 years ago. I've restored it twice. Very rare Navajo Grey. The Chrysler 300e, the 1959 Chrysler 300e here. Bought new by the Eaton department store family. Phenomenal car! I mean 380 horsepower in 1959 and I'm going to show you this because you've got to see it.
Look at that. That's a 413 max wedge with dual four-barrel carburetors, producing 380 horsepower. This is a true 140 mile an hour car. By Motor Trend. So to have a car like this in 1959 was phenomenal and in-fact the Eaton family took it away from their son because he got in so much trouble with it. I love the colours of these cars you know. The Packard here, the one up on the shelf. That car I bought at the Portland swap-meet 1991. 1937 Chrysler Airflow the most revolutionary car of its era. There's so many things that became industry standards that were new on this car but it was an economic failure. Chrysler lost money on these cars because people thought they looked like a locomotive, they were so unconventional but they're phenomenal. And I'm in the process of doing this '37 Cadillac Lasalle convertible. What a car for somebody to have in the depression. Who would have a car like this? You know and the lines of it are so beautiful. So that's my goal this year is to finish that car.
And what I got here is, to me, an art gallery. It really is. It's not a showroom, it's not a garage, it's an art gallery because to me cars are art. They're all different. They all have character, they all have different stories, and they are distinct and unique and that's what keeps me interested after all these years.